Fwd: Supplemental Pool #1

Begin forwarded message:

From: Olivier Knox >
Date: March 21, 2016 at 11:25:59 AM GMT-4
To: "Desiree N. Barnes" >, "Peter T. EOP/WHO Velz" >
Subject: Supplemental Pool #1
Reply-To: Olivier Knox >

A President Obama wink, a Secretary of State John Kerry quotation, a wreath-laying with no breaking news but a somewhat scary press scrum. Will also be sharing a photo or two from said scrum, including a Ch? Guevara backdrop.

Getting the nuggets out of the way first. I asked Obama how the trip was going so far, he smiled and winked. I asked Kerry how the trip was going so far, he said "great." In response to a Tara/BBC question, he called the wreath-laying "a historic moment" and said it was "pretty remarkable to hear the anthems here, side by side, in Havana with the President of the United States."

The president is now meeting at the Palacio de la Revoluci?n with Cuban President Ra?l Castro.

Now for the color.

At 10:26 am, the motorcade came into view. Your pool could see Cubans clustered near what appeared to be some shacks with a view of the highway.

The Beast pulled up near the Jos? Mart? memorial moments later. Officials poured out the motorcade and went to stand facing the statue of Mart?, deep in thought at the base of a large grey Cuban marble memorial that is imposing but could never be called pretty. Josh Earnest and Ben Rhodes, Secretary of State John Kerry, Susan Rice, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, others. Over their right shoulders, a government building with a portrait of Ch? Guevara, with the words "hasta la victoria siempre." Over their left shoulders, a large portrait of Camilo Cienfuegos, with "vas bien Fidel" - another revolutionary slogan.

At 10:31 am, the president walked from the Beast toward the cluster of US officials, and stood also facing the memorial. The Music Band of the General Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba played the anthems. US first.

At 10:34 am, two uniformed Cubans - your pooler thinks they may have been part of the Music Band - carried the easel bearing the wreath (red, white and blue roses, green fronds) and placed it at the base of the statue. They were led by a high-stepping soldier holding a saber.

At 10:36, POTUS strode forward, looking serious, with a gentleman Cuban officials would only identify as "a party secretary." (They did not know his name, which might make things awkward at the next Party party.) POTUS bowed his head. Then walked back to take part in what officials were calling a "family photo" - senior aides, Cuban officials. Press surged forward so quickly I thought they were going to swamp the delegation, racing up to get their cameras as close to POTUS as possible, forcing Service to move in to force some people back. Your pooler thinks he heard POTUS say "hey guys, move back" a couple of times. Mostly kept smiling, though. Your pooler was glad that no unplanned news was made - the delegation had its back to a roughly 10-foot drop.

Photos TK. You may get more quotes from Tara/BBC.

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